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    My Phone Was Stolen At A Concert, But I Went Full Liam Neeson And Got It Back

    I have skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my phone go now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you; I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will pay you a small reward.

    Hi, I'm Luis Del Valle, 29 years old, Pisces, and I love the beach and music festivals.

    In my spare time, I like to strike poses like I'm doing a photoshoot for my first album of soft rock anthems.

    Recently, I ventured to the huge musical festival Trópico, which takes place on the beaches of Acapulco.

    Luis Del Valle

    I was hoping for two days full of warm weather, smiles, and fun. What I got were two days of warm weather, smiles, fun, and a stolen cell phone. Womp.

    Here's where our story begins...

    Here's the lineup for Saturday night. (The festival is in Mexico, so the schedule is in Spanish, obv.) The big event of the evening ended late. How late? 8:30 a.m. on Sunday.

    I'm stubborn, so I was ready to party until sunrise. But I was up late the night before, and the night before that, and I'm not 21 anymore, so... I needed to find somewhere to duck out for a quick nap.


    Lots of people! It seemed like a logical thing to do at the time, but in hindsight, it was a terrible decision. There was a big garden filled with little palm trees, and there were plenty of other people napping inside. My Airbnb was far away, so I decided a quick power nap was all I needed. I found a spot, put my iPhone in my bag, and went to sleep.

    Half an hour later, I woke up feeling rejuvenated. I made sure I wasn't leaving anything behind, then wandered off to find something to eat. That's when I noticed something was missing...


    My phone was gone. I was back at my nap spot within five minutes, but it was long enough for my phone to vanish. I don't know if I dropped it somewhere, or if it was taken out of my bag, but it definitely went missing after that damned nap.

    At that point, I started running around like a headless chicken, looking for someone who could help me.


    The security guys didn't see anything, didn't hear anything, and didn't know anything. It's kinda like they didn't even exist.

    Eventually, I found a friend, borrowed his phone, and called my own number. What I heard next filled me with dread...


    I couldn't find the friends I had come with and had no way to communicate with them. Also, guess who keeps their debit card in their phone case? I had no idea what to do. I had never had a phone stolen from me in my life.

    I didn't get back to my Airbnb until 5 in the morning. With some help from my friends, I canceled my debit card and blocked access to my phone with the "Find my iPhone" app.


    If you haven't used the app before, it lets you lock your phone so it can't be used, and then sends the phone a message that says something like: "I have important information on my phone. If found, please leave it at the hotel's front desk."

    The next day, I woke up and BAM! The phone had turned up at 8:16 a.m. miles away from the festival grounds.

    Luis Del Valle / BuzzFeed

    AHH! I called my phone again. Voicemail. My friends woke up, and one of them had a brilliant idea...

    "What if you offer them money? It worked for some friends of mine."

    My phone was new, and even though it was insured, the deductible was going to be a blow to my budget, so I chose to update the app's message: "Hi! I don't want to lose my phone and I don't want any trouble. I'll give you $100 and we'll leave it at that. Cool?"

    We decided to go back to the festival, and on the way, my friend kept trying my number. Eventually, she got through!


    It was a man who sounded like he was from the area. He claimed he had "found" my phone, and that he didn't live where the app was showing the phone.

    Imagine our surprise when the conversation turned toward the message on the phone and the...

    Getty Images / BuzzFeed

    He asked if he'd be receiving a "tip" for returning the phone. He was trying to ransom my own phone back to me, but my friend agreed. We asked if he'd meet us at the Walmart 10 minutes later, but he said he had something to do with his wife and daughter and would need a couple hours.

    I became obsessed with tracking my phone. For the next couple hours, I watched as it'd pop up on the map in different locations.

    Luis Del Valle / BuzzFeed

    Until the time came when he had agreed to meet us. He didn't show.

    So we called, and called, and called.

    Luis Del Valle / BuzzFeed

    But there was no answer, until... A CALL FROM MY NUMBER CAME THROUGH! A call that we missed. I was starting to come to terms with the idea that I'd never see my phone again.

    I was learning to cope. Here's my friend Alberto enjoying the beach, and me with a look of sadness and despair as I attempted to process everything that was happening to me.

    Luis Del Valle / BuzzFeed

    I wasn't just losing my phone. I was losing the money it'd cost to replace it, all my pictures, texts, notes...everything. All because I was dumb enough to fall asleep in a public place. After 4 p.m. that day, my phone stopped popping up in the app.

    I had an 11:45 p.m. bus ticket back to Mexico City, where I live. I was determined to enjoy the rest of the festival.

    In a last-ditch effort, I raised the reward, on the condition that he bring the phone to me at my friends' hotel.

    Luis Del Valle / BuzzFeed

    Sure, it was a lot of money. But it was still less than I'd need to pay to get a new phone.

    My friend got the call: "I just talked to the criminal; he's bringing the phone in half an hour."

    But half an hour later — nothing. We called over and over, but the phone was off. When it did pop up in the app, it was nowhere near us. But eventually, we got through!

    The voice on the phone was different. It was much younger, and he had a totally different way of speaking.

    He kept saying things like, "I don't want you calling the cops on me" and kept reminding me that I had "lost the phone." He wanted to make it very clear to me that he had not stolen the phone.

    He said he was in the Navy (yeah right) and that we could meet him at the local Naval base.!3m2!1e3!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x85ca59b44878d7e5:0x572201ee1ddddb1f!8m2!3d16.8344723!4d-99.8519063

    I said no, and we negotiated for a while. I agreed to pay for his cab fare if he came to meet me at the hotel. There wasn't much else I could do. He said he'd be there in 10 minutes.

    The phone was on the move. This was really happening.

    Google Maps

    My friends started to plot about what they'd do to this guy when he showed up. They wanted revenge. I just wanted to get my phone back and be done with it.

    Things had gotten complicated. I was starting to feel like I was involved in a big police drama like on TV.


    We warned security at the hotel. They said they would follow us when we handed over the money (they didn't). Another employee said he would block the street and follow the phone thief (he didn't). The ATM was down, so we changed venues. Next door. Absolute chaos.

    The app said our contact was just a few yards away now. Right outside the hotel. We hid.

    Google Maps

    My friends and I walked out to meet him, money in hand.

    There he was, just standing there like it was no big deal.

    We showed him the money. He showed us the phone. My friend Alberto made a grab for it, but the man wouldn't let go. We gave him the cash, but he said we were missing the $15 for the cab. Fine. Whatever. I was finally getting my phone back.

    But then the cab driver came over and demanded payment. I handed him $20, and he said:

    Getty Images

    We couldn't believe it. Alberto got angry, and started shouting at the guy that he was "bargaining with a stolen phone." The driver went back to his car to find change, and the thief said he didn't understand our reaction because he was just doing "what we had agreed on."

    Things were starting to get heated, until my friend calmed down and asked the guy, "How are things in Acapulco?" He answered:

    Getty Images

    😒 😒 😒 😒 😒 The driver came back with the change. They said their goodbyes and the thief even shook my hand. We went back inside, glad we'd never have to see either the thief or the cab driver ever again.

    I celebrated having my phone back by snapping a photo of the two friends who had helped me recover it, leapt in a cab, and raced for the bus station.

    Luis Del Valle / BuzzFeed

    The cab driver made some small talk on the way to the bus stop. He thanked me for visiting Acapulco and said that the city "wasn't as bad as people made it out to be." I told him my story and he added, "Forget it then. Have a good trip."

    But I'd go back. One bad experience doesn't represent all of Acapulco or its people.

    Aneese / Getty Images

    But remember kids, never fall asleep alone at a music festival. You don't know what could happen.

    This post was translated from Spanish.